Honda’s bread and butter model, the City has gone through three generations of upgrades now – but while it was at it, the City went through a lot of ups and downs as far as enthusiast following was concerned. When the second generation City (commonly known as the ’Dolphin shape’) came along a lot of people turned their heads with disgust, as the new car was a disaster of a design when compared to its predecessor. But a compact, fuel-efficient engine saw it rule the roost in terms of sale. So, learning from these two generations, the third gen Honda City decided to have a futuristic design while incorporating a powerful yet fuel-efficient engine that would rewrite the rules of the games.
Design and Features
Talking about the design then, the new Honda City isn’t a complete departure from the Dolphin shape. It still uses a similar stubby-tail-long-nose form, but at the same time invests enough design elements like the Civic Type-R inspired headlights, short floating grille, Beemer 3-series style taillights and low slung stance to give it an aggressive look as compared to its yesteryear counterpart.
The interiors however aren’t all that great – especially after we know what Honda did inside the Civic. The City’s interiors feel cheap with a very plasticy feel to them. The steering wheel from the Civic and a few chisels here and there are a saving grace but lacks the up-market feel you would expect from a 10-lakh-rupee car.
Irrespective of the variant, the City comes with ABS and airbags fitted as standard equipment. The top end model gets Honda’s new digital entertainment system, which is nothing but a cheap radio and a USB compatible MP3 player that does not support any sort of discs whatsoever. You are better off buying the low or mid-range model and installing a better aftermarket system with the money saved.
Driving and comfort
The new City has a more rigid chassis than its predecessor giving it better handling characteristics. Unlike any of the Citys launched in India, the 3rd generation City has minimal body roll unless you decide to get a little too enthusiastic in the twisties. For tackling the Indian road conditions, the City runs on a taller suspension setup as compared to its international counterparts. This not only translates into better comfort but brilliant handling over broken roads as well.
However, all these efforts have been marred by the insufficient 175/65-section tyres. This tiny rubber hardly gives the car any grip when you push the car hard and what’s even worse is their wobbly feeling when the needle starts climbing over 130 km/h even on a straight!
The City can seat four adults and a kid without much ado and the large 506 litre boot space makes it an ideal weekend getaway car for the entire family.
The new 1.5-litre VTEC engine produces 116PS now, which has brought back the smile on a lot of faces. The engine is capable of catapulting the car from naught to 100 in under 11 seconds. This is revelation especially after knowing the face that the new City is a heavier car as compared to its predecessors. But the experience isn’t all that pleasurable after 130 km/h as we mentioned earlier.
Furthermore, the new engine produces its max power at 6600 rpm as opposed to the predecessors 5800 rpm, which means the car needs to rev more to give you some juice. What this has resulted in is a flat mid-range, which means it needs more gearshifts – thus making overtaking an irritating affair. Thankfully though the engine has been tuned for a good low end torque, which gives the car phenomenal response when driving in the city.
All the tuning and the extra horses and weight hasn’t taken a toll on the fuel efficiency though. The 3rd generation City still manages to extract 11-13 kilometers out of a litre of petrol in the city while the tuning is good for at least 16 kmpl on the highway.
The Honda City fights against a very tough competition. While it has the highly spirited and performance oriented Ford Fiesta variants on one end, its has the stunningly beautiful Linea and value-for-money Optra to tackle on the other. While these cars have been creeping their way into the City’s market share, the City still holds its head high, thanks to the Honda brand image and proven Japanese reliability. But if brand value is not something you are after, then the City’s competitors have some serious goodies on offer!